Sunday, July 29, 2012

No Storm Lasts Forever

I must confess the title for this post comes from a book I haven’t read but have heard about. The concept of “This too shall pass,” I’m really struggling with. Someone said people respond to our truth so that’s what I’m writing about, what’s true for me. Even if it feels like it’s the same damn thing over and over again.

It became clear to me recently I have something similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Whenever there are loud noises in my apartment or near my apartment, I go into a full-on panic. I start shaking, my heart starts beating faster and I am consumed with fear. Whenever I complain about hearing the pulse of music in the house below me the responses are invariably, “Have you tried earplugs? Or your white noise machine?” And “You can blare your own music!” I appreciate the sentiments, but really all I want is empathy. Because the super low pulse of bass cannot be drowned out. When the noise is a low, steady thumping, it gets into your body like a heartbeat. There’s a reason people have used drums for war calls – the sound travels across great distances.
Life is like a little boat upon the sea. . .

So instead of being able to do anything about it, I have to sit and listen to the damn noise until it’s turned off. And as I listen to it I start to chant like a mantra, “This too shall pass, this too shall pass. This is temporary. I won’t be here much longer. It will stop.” I know with utmost certainty this keeps happening to me because this issue is begging to be healed. It may not seem like it to other people but it was really traumatic not being able to sleep for five months because of loud music and other noises in my former apartment. This thing with noise keeps happening to me because I haven’t dealt with the issue – instead I keep running from one place to another hoping this time it will be better. It is usually better but I still get triggered.

In the interim, I have to keep reminding myself no storm lasts forever. I had an acute awareness of the transience of my situation on Friday night. I took a shower and the water pooled around my feet three inches deep. This has happened to me before. I chronicled it in my book in a chapter called, “The Sublet from Hell.” At the same time I started rewatching “Felicity,” a show that was on in 1998. When “Felicity” was on the air in 1998 I was mostly depressed, fantasizing about the day I would have numerous friends who lived nearby. Wishing for a time someone would call me up to hang out. The confluence of these two events – showering in a pool of water and rewatching “Felicity” – reminded me how different my live is now and also how temporary. These days I have what I dreamed about, and I lived through a situation that was also unbearable at the time. In that moment I really felt the impermanence of my situation. I felt centered in the truth no storm lasts forever.

This is an important lesson because when I’m in pain I think I’ll be in pain forever. I go to a negative place and don’t believe things will ever change. Even if I know intellectually that’s not true, my subconscious or whatever it is, takes over and I don’t believe it. All I can think about is how I’m in pain and isn’t it terrible, and “nothing will ever change.” It’s important for me to cling onto my boat and ride the waves because in truth, no storm lasts forever.

I dream of a world where we grasp how impermanent every situation is. Even if it’s longer term, it will also pass. Nothing is constant in life except change. I dream of a world where we ride through each situation, where as Winston Churchill says, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” A world where we understand as long as it may seem, no storm lasts forever.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The In-Betweens

Last night I told a friend I go through a big transformation every four years. It's been four years since I moved to San Francisco so that means I'm going through another transformation. I've been kidding myself, resisting this change, and fooling myself into believing I just need to find a new place to live and then everything will be settled. In truth, everything will not be settled because it's not about a new place to live. It's not about more money. It's not about any of the million things I can "fix." I am in a transition.

The title of this post is the in-betweens because that's exactly where I am. In between one place and another. Quite literally actually because I'm writing this from a housesitting gig. I am flying through the air, in between one landing pad and another. I know all of this is a little vague, but in essence, I'm at a point where all I have is faith because there is nothing solid beneath me. There is no absolute "this is going to happen" or "here follow this plan." I hadn't realized how big of a change this was going to be. I thought my next transformation would be marriage and babies. Not "where am I living, what am I doing, how am I making money?"

throw your hands in the air like your flying

The beauty in all this though is the in-betweens are the place where the magic happens. Where the growth happens. Where all my spiritual lessons are being put to the test. How much faith do I really have that everything will work out? How much faith do I have that I'll get through this murky period where I'm not sure which way is up? How much faith do I have that I'll sprout wings? Because that's what happens in the in-betweens: we're no longer on land so we have to use our wings. My wings are a little rusty. I haven't had to use them in four years so I've forgotten how to fly.

What's really funny is people keep reflecting back things that I've said and heck, things that I've written. How my higher power hasn't abandoned me, how I need to keep a positive attitude, how I need to stay in the moment. You all got to see all of that reflected in Just a Girl from Kansas and now I'm reliving it. Seriously. I've moved twice in the past six months and I'm poised to move again. I've already housesat three times at least and I'm scheduled for a few more. This year is an echo of 2012. Am I freaking out? Yes I am. But today it hit me so clearly, "This is a transition. This is an in-between. I cannot escape this as much as I'd like to try." Somehow knowing this is my process, knowing every four years I will have a period like this, where the universe plucks me out of my comfort zone and drops me into something new, makes it easier to swallow. It doesn't have to be such a scary thing, this not-knowing. Instead it's faith 2.0. I have to lean into my higher power and see what develops.

My life has felt like it's been crumbling because I've had to move so much and my financial situation is not what I would like. But now I see that my life isn't crumbling so much as breaking open. It's not as if there's one major change in my life and that's it. I will have many, many more periods like this where I don't really understand what's going on or what direction my life is taking. But that's OK. I can enjoy the ride and enjoy this in-between moment where I feel the wind in my hair and the freedom around me. It's these in-between moments where I get to feel really alive because I'm not tied down to anything.

A friend reminded me I've experienced multiple periods of grace, where everything flowed together. Today I acknowledged as an addict I want to feel that grace all the time, and if I don't I think something is wrong. But really if I experienced that grace once I'll experience it again. I haven't been abandoned or forsaken. I haven't been forgotten about. I'm in the in-betweens where land is far below and it's my job to keep pumping my wings.

I dream of a world where we understand life won't always look the way we want it to. A world where we acknowledge there are periods of transitions we each have to go through and instead of being scary they can be fun. A world where we trust the process and acknowledge when life seems to be crumbling around us, really we're probably in the in-betweens.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Free Falling is Only Scary if You Fight It

Today I had the pleasure of running into not one but TWO friends of mine unexpectedly. The second one said, "Free falling is only scary if you fight it." That statement really struck me, probably because I've been fighting, well, everything.

There's a lot going on in my world right now and I don't altogether trust my higher power. Whenever things don't go the way I think they "should" or that equate pleasure and enjoyment I think it's time to take my free will back because my higher power is obviously not doing a very good job. I know, the hubris of such a sentiment! But it's how I feel nonetheless. So when my friend said to me free falling is only scary if you fight it, I realized this process doesn't have to be scary. I can choose to see things differently. Instead of feeling punished or put upon or angry, I can go with it. I can allow myself the sensation of free falling, knowing when need be I can pop my parachute.
I aspire to be as joyful while falling as this guy is.
 It's certainly not easy, nor am I able to shut down my urge to fight, but I know from past experience my higher power will catch me. That it's important to keep the faith because even though times are hard, they will get better. That even though I'm panicked (quite literally because my adrenal glands are so depleted I freak out over every little thing) the feeling will pass. I don't seem to remember that.

Two years ago I wrote a post that elucidated exactly that -- if something is happening in the present I think it will last forever. In that particular post it was about a car alarm going off. These days it's the belief I will NEVER find a great place to live, that I will NEVER sell a bunch of books, that I will NEVER make more money, etc. I think this is probably because I'm a bit of a drama queen or an addict. Funny how I only think about these things for the negative emotions and experiences and not the positive ones. I don't believe bliss will last forever and instead appreciate it for the transitory experience it is. I wish I could feel the same way about misery.

So again, I have to come back to basics. I have to be with the process, knowing it will pass and doesn't have to be quite so terrifying. I have to remember even though I don't understand any of my life's circumstances, they are all happening for a reason. Someone said to me today, "You can't fall out of grace." How true. There is nothing I can do that will make God and the universe love me any less or punish me. Yes, there are equal and opposite reactions to all actions I take, but even those are temporary. All of it is temporary. Free falling isn't scary if you don’t fight it.

I dream of a world where we sit with the process, whatever it might be. A world where we understand all things are only temporary. A world where we know we have strength and patience and fortitude to move through any difficulty even if we feel like we're hanging on by our fingertips. Because as was shown to me today, we never know what's around the corner and when we'll receive the help we need.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Life Without Money

I have never in my life been as financially poor as I am now. I know many people believe that by writing that statement I’m only making my financial situation worse, so in order to counter that sentiment I’ll also say I am increasing my financial abundance and that all of my financial needs will always be met.

Lately I’ve had tunnel vision when it comes to money. I feel like I’m forever saying, “No” to things because I don’t have the financial means. A friend suggested I needed a vacation and my first response was, “I’d love to take a vacation but I don’t have the money to fly anywhere,” which was true. However, the universe is creative and there are infinite ways to accomplish what I desire without involving money. In this case I used my frequent flier miles to head up to Seattle to stay with my parents.
Hallelujah! A vacation!
That may sound like the most obvious solution in the world but it was not because I didn’t have enough frequent flier miles and neither did my parents. But the universe always provides, as I’ve written about before. I stumbled across the website, which allows you to shift loyalty points from one program to another! I didn’t have enough miles in any one program but I certainly had enough when I combined points! Thus I was able to take a much-needed vacation after all. (By the way, does anyone want to donate points to me so I can fly to my friends’ wedding in New Hampshire?)

Also, my current apartment is driving me crazy. I write that with only a touch of trepidation that my landlady will see it, but I’m banking on the fact she doesn’t know my blog exists nor have I ever sent her an e-mail in order for her to find the link. The place is fine at night after everyone goes to sleep, so yes, I’m sleeping through the night, but at other times I’m going out of my friggin’ mind. Last week her little rat dog BIT ME and DREW BLOOD. For the record, never in my life have I been bitten by an animal until last week; usually animals love me and beg to sit on my lap. So I’ve frantically been looking for new places to live and have been pretty depressed about it actually. (Moving AGAIN?!?)

But the universe provides and life can be lived without money. My dear friends announced they are going out of town for two weeks and I asked whether I could housesit. They said yes so for two weeks I get to have peace and quiet in a gorgeous San Francisco condo. Halle-frickin-lujah. The whole experience reminds me all of my needs will always be met and it doesn’t have to involve money even if at the onset I think it will. I am loved by the universe and will always be provided for.

I dream of a world where all of our needs will always be met. A world where we understand money is not the be-all, end-all we think it is. A world where we realize the universe is listening and it’s up to us to continue to ask and be open to what comes back. A world where we know life can be lived without money.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Power of One

This week I texted a friend, “I will eat you out of house and home!” Did you know that idiom originates from William Shakespeare? Did you also know Shakespeare is credited with creating approximately 1,700 words? SEVENTEEN HUNDRED WORDS people. I bring this up because so very often I feel like a peon, a grain of sand on a beach, a speck in time, and I start to question what one person can really accomplish. I don’t have any superpowers, nor am I likely to cure cancer, but then I remember one person can accomplish a lot.

This man is pretty epic if you think about it.

I am inspired by hearing Shakespeare created 1,700 words that are still in use today. The dude died almost 400 years ago and yet we still remember him. That’s some power right there. He was one person, and yet he had a lasting effect on the world around him. He was a person just like me and he absolutely made a difference. And he’s not alone. Albert Einstein was another great man who revolutionized physics. One guy, huge impact.

So often I think I have to do something HUGE in order to leave an impression on the world, but in truth, each of these fellows followed their hearts and let the chips fall where they would. I doubt either of them foresaw people would still be talking about them long after their deaths. It’s amazing the sort of power one person can have on the world. One person can and does make a difference.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Mother Teresa: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

If you’ve ever taken a dropper bottle and put drops of water on a penny you know there comes a certain tipping point where just one more drop breaks the surface tension and the water spills over the surface. We don’t know if we are that drop. We don’t know what ripple our actions will create. We have no idea how powerful we actually are, and that’s what amazes me today. To realize even though I am a small human being I am also powerful beyond measure. That I could also change the world and so can you.

I dream of a world where we realize we are powerful beings who can leave an imprint on the world around us. A world where we realize all of our actions means something and all of our actions add up. A world where we understand as Mother Teresa also says, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.